Products are appealing and intriguing.
Consumers and Boutique owners don't have enough knowledge to make purchase.
Product is an anomoly.
While I have investigated numerous businesses that are similar enough to offer insight, and continue to do so, I will focus here on three businesses that illustrate key discovories.
Link Collecive sells Furoshiki which are large cotton scarves that carry colorful designs created by a few illustrators and surface designers. It's a product that isn't immediately recognizable to much of the world. But Link has done a good job of explaining the process of how the scarves are made, both the design, which includes some focus on the designers, and the manufacturing which emphasises Japanese tradition and craftsmanship. Link also does a good job of demonstrating how the products can be used as bags, parcels, wraps for gifts or as decorative wall hangings in addition to the usual suggestions about how these might be worn illustrated in photographs. The website divides into sections for Furoshiki, Bags, Carry Straps, Gifts, and Display Pole, even though it is essentially the same product offered. This expands context and encourages multiple points of entry.
Blue Bottle Coffee
Blue Bottle Coffee is offering a very familiar product that they would like for you to consider in an entirely new way. The website emphasises learning about how coffee is grown and manufactured and then prepared at home. A major section of the website, Learn, is given as much weight as Shop. And almost every journey through the site encourages you to gain new knowledge and reconsider what you think you know. They are able to achieve a nice balance between what is familiar and what is new and exciting by placing these together in an integrated format. The option to explore is always available, but is grounded in the ability to find a tangible product efficiently and purchase it easily.
Blue Bottle Coffee
MoMA Design Store
The store not only makes use of the name recognition and the obvious relationship to the museum, it expands upon that relationship by emphasising curation and an ongoing connection to design classics. Stories about how the products are chosen for the store and how they are chosen for the museum are both prominintly featured on the website. Offering design classics suggests curatiorial expertise and provides grounding for riskier and newer products made by lesser and unknown designers. While a new store can't boast of a relationship to an established institution, lessons on placing the product in a broader cultural context can be employed.
MoMA Design Store
The initial direction focused on a traditional flow where the user is funneled from an offering of a wide variety of products to the purchase of a single item. In initial sketches I concentrated on streamlining that process to avoid interruptions and build confidence through clear strong steps. But I struggled to find a natural place for the additional information about the products that I was thinking of as supplemental. Through the process of sketching possible scenarios I began to shift my perspective and to conceive of the extra product information, information about care and use and materials, as more than just nice to have. Because the product range is so focused, really one main item, and because it is unknown and carries so few expectations and associations, there was an opportunity to do more.
Opportunities to dive into the details of how the products are imagined and constructed allow the user to make discovories and connections, putting the products in a historical and cultural context. Throughout the process of exploration, specific Black Plum products are present or highlighted. And purchase is always a quick and simple option.
Product knowledge and anecdotes help provide a sense of the boutique experience.
Users are encouraged to learn more via three main branches: Our Process, Use/Care, and Put it On.
tells the story of how the product came to life, both in a physical sense — the craftsmanship and materials and the history that go into the products — and in a conceptual sense — what ideas and discussions are behind the designs that appear on the scarves. The wireframes below illustrate one line of inquiry into process and some of the available areas of discovery.
provides washing suggestions, notes on durability, and ideas for alternative ways a silk scarf can be put to work. Other uses include: tying the ends of the scarf to create an improptu bag; using it to divide items in a large suitcase; wrapping a small picnic; laying it out as a small table cloth.
Put it On
features inspiring ways to wrap, tie, and drape the scarves as well as hightlighting who has worn the scarves from the distant to the recent past in all parts of the world.
Continuing through the purchase flow, positive and relevant material is readily available that goes well beyond the details of the product and helps to place it in a greater context and give it a fuller richness. While an online shop can't command the same physical presence of an in-store staff person, the enhanced opportunities for for discovery and understanding that an online experience provides can be very powerful.
Continued research and testing on added content.
Would love to know what users find most relevant in order to prioritize and add depth to that content.
What ethical concerns regarding the production of materials/labor need to be addressed?